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Old Posted May 18, 2007, 11:55 AM
WaterlooInvestor WaterlooInvestor is offline
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Prime minister unveils high-tech strategy

Prime minister unveils high-tech strategy
Updated Thu. May. 17 2007 11:57 AM ET
Canadian Press

WATERLOO, Ont. -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper says more private research and development is key to strengthening the country's economy.

Speaking in Waterloo, Ont., Harper said today the government plans to lean heavily on what he called the "creative genius'' of Canada's scientists and its entrepreneurs.

Harper says the government's new strategy is designed to reverse years of declining private-sector involvement in R&D.

He also says enrolment in university science and engineering programs has also been falling.

In its 2007 budget, the federal government allocated $1.9 billion for science and technology.

Harper says building up the country's high-tech assets is as important as building infrastructure.

"Our new strategy will create high quality jobs in the science and technology sector, improve our standard of living and quality of life, and build a stronger economy and a stronger Canada,'' Harper said.


PM pledges cash to boost private R&D
Last Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2007 | 1:20 PM ET

Mike Lazaridis (left) of Research in Motion looks on as Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces Canada's new science and technology strategy in Waterloo, Ont., on Thursday.
(Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Canada is lagging behind international competitors when it comes to training the next generation of scientists and engineers, whose innovations are critical to Canada's economy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

Speaking in Waterloo, Ont., Thursday, Harper said the federal Conservative government plans to boost private research and development with its new science and technology strategy.

He said the plan is designed to reverse years of declining private-sector involvement in research and development in Canada, causing the country to fall far behind other G8 nations in the area.

"Canada has long been a leader in science and technology achievements, but we've got some work to do to put ourselves back on the forefront of innovation," Harper told a gathering of researchers and investors at Waterloo's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

"No country can remain prosperous and healthy without reinvesting a proportion of its wealth in science and technology."

The strategy also calls for bolstering falling enrolment in university science and engineering programs with scholarships and increased funding for research internships.

Harper said the government plans to tap into what he called the "creative genius" of Canada's scientists and its entrepreneurs, as well as make the country more attractive to foreign investment and researchers.

For too many years, government, academia and business have been "isolated silos," unlike research and development partnerships in the United States that benefit from clear communications with each other, the prime minister added.

The strategy is part of the $9.2 billion for total science and technology investments previously announced in the federal budget.


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Old Posted May 18, 2007, 11:56 AM
WaterlooInvestor WaterlooInvestor is offline
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Posts: 1,974
PM in Waterloo to announce research strategy; Harper calls for investment in Canada's future
WATERLOO (May 18, 2007)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks yesterday at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where he announced a national science and technology strategy.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seen here with RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo yesterday, said innovation is crucial to future prosperity.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper picked a Waterloo research institute yesterday to announce a new strategy to encourage breakthroughs in science and technology.

Backed by mathematical formulas on a blackboard, Harper praised the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics as the kind of venture needed to ensure future prosperity in a changing global marketplace.

"We could think of no better example in the country of what we're trying to accomplish in science and technology than the work that's being done here," he said. "That's why we're here today."

Launched in 2000 with $120 million in private money -- the bulk of it from Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of Research In Motion -- the institute is dedicated to exploring the essence of space, time, matter and information.

While a group of auto workers outside protested the loss of manufacturing jobs, Lazaridis introduced Harper and said such fundamental research is vital to success in an evolving economy.

"Canada can lead the world in key scientific fields, from which future economic prosperity and job creation will flow, as long as the private sector and governments make bold, focused and long-term investments," he said.

The announcement did not include any new money, instead laying out a framework of goals and principles.

Harper said the country's standard of living is at risk because private investment in research and development, university enrolment in scientific fields and productivity have fallen behind global competitors.

The strategy -- dubbed Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage -- is meant to reverse that decline by encouraging a marriage of entrepreneurial energy and technological expertise.

"If we do not improve, Canada will become a poorer, weaker country," Harper said. "Ladies and gentlemen, that will not happen on my watch."

A press conference in a packed theatre at the institute was also attended by three prominent federal cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Beforehand, Harper and his ministers met privately for 45 minutes with local business and academic leaders.

David Johnston, president of the University of Waterloo, said he was encouraged during the discussion by their commitment to science and technology, and their reasons for stating it so strongly.

"They understand the challenge for Canada in the world," he said. "They understand that talent will be necessary and they see this particular region and its cluster of institutions and private-sector collaboration as the bellwether for how Canada in going to compete."

Asked about job losses in traditional manufacturing, Harper said they are an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of adaptation.

"If you go around the world and look at any economy where they have the same jobs today that they had 50 years ago, that's not a very prosperous economy," he said. "The process of change, properly managed, is a good thing for the economy and for the country."

Perimeter is getting $50 million from the Conservative government for operating expenses over the next five years, part of a $350 million commitment announced in the federal budget earlier this year for Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and Research.

Howard Burton, executive director of the Caroline Street institute, said that money -- part of $150 million it has received so far from the federal and provincial governments -- will help it attract top-notch researchers from around the world.

He said ambitious goals and financial stability are crucial for landing the type of talent who can do groundwork forming the basis for new products and services.

"These tend to be people who have all kinds of places to go," said Burton. "These are not losers."

A central component of the government strategy is promoting public-private partnerships, then making it easier for innovations to find their way on to consumer markets.

"I can't understate how important this public policy field is for the health of our economy and the competitiveness of our society over time," said Harper.

ON THE WEB: Watch Harper's announcement at the Perimeter Institute in the multimedia section at www.therecord.com
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